Simpson University Students Student-Teach in Rwanda and Ecuador

For Immediate Release


Simpson University teaching credential student Kimberly Thurston, left, stands with students at Alliance Academy International in Ecuador

REDDING, Calif. - Two Simpson University students are fulfilling their student-teaching requirements overseas this spring in Africa and Ecuador.

Kimberly Thurston, from Fortuna, Calif., is at Alliance Academy International in Quito, Ecuador. Thurston, who is studying to become an English high school teacher, did the first phase of her student teaching in January and February at Fortuna Middle School, her alma mater.

Alexandra PatersonAlexandra Paterson of Cameron Park, Calif., is in Rwanda, student-teaching in grade three at Kigali International School. She did the first phrase of her teaching at Junction Elementary School in first grade.

“There is a huge need for qualified teachers in these international schools, and we believe we have well-qualified teacher candidates who go through our School of Education program,” said Dr. Richard Harris, associate dean of the School of Education. “We inform our students that student-teaching internationally is an option.”

Dr. Harris has served as an administrator and consultant in multiple international Christian schools and is aware of student-teaching opportunities available in those settings.

Paterson, who graduated in spring 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies, has looked for opportunities to go abroad, including a study semester in Australia her sophomore year, and a Simpson WorldSERVE mission trip to Eastern Europe last year. Her first overseas service experience was at age 14, when she helped teach English to Burmese refugee kids in Thailand.

“Since then, teaching abroad has been at the back of my mind,” she said. “I love to travel and live in new places and learn about different cultures.”

Her time thus far at Kigali International Community School in Rwanda has been challenging but rewarding, Paterson said. “The staff has been very welcoming. I am getting to be more creative with my lessons and figure out how to best teach topics.”

Thurston also graduated from Simpson in spring 2014, with bachelor’s degrees in general ministry and English for teachers. “When I graduated, I wanted to explore the world outside of my comfort zone,” she said. Some of her closest friends in college were missionary kids who graduated from the academy in Ecuador where she chose to teach.

“Coming here is my way of demonstrating that I am open to God’s calling in my life,” Thurston said.

Since the early 1990s, the School of Education has had a number of students do a portion of their student-teaching in countries that include Ethiopia, India, France, Spain, Indonesia, and Taiwan.

“The students who choose this option have a heart for missions and international teaching,” said Dr. Glee Brooks, dean of the School of Education. “Simpson University has an emphasis on serving peoples of the world, locally and globally.”

Both Paterson and Thurston said the School of Education has prepared them well for their work inside a classroom.

“I am beyond grateful for the education and opportunities Simpson has offered me, “ Thurston said. “The credentialing department specifically has given me resources for a strong curriculum as well as modeling grace for their students as a strategy for Christian educators.”

Learn more about Simpson University’s School of Education at


(Top) Simpson University teaching credential student Kimberly Thurston, left, stands with students at Alliance Academy International in Ecuador.

(Middle Right) Alexandra Paterson, a Simpson University teaching credential student, is teaching in Rwanda this spring.

Simpson University, established in 1921, is a Christian university offering undergraduate, graduate, and teaching credential programs. The university celebrated its 25th year in Redding and the completion of a Science and Nursing Center in 2014. Academic programs include ASPIRE, a degree-completion program geared toward working adults with both on-campus and online course offerings, including degrees in psychology and organizational leadership. For information about the university, or to arrange a campus visit, call 1-888-9-SIMPSON or visit


Contact: SU Public Relations
(530) 226-4737